Sermons

Sermon: Wednesday, November 29, 2017: Reign of Christ (transferred)

Texts: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24  +  Psalm 95:1-7a  +  Ephesians 1:15-23  +  Matthew 25:31-46

“What I think, is that this is hell,” is what my sister told me.

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Me and Tara, ca. 1985. Arriving in the United States from Thailand.

By this point, I’d already gone to seminary. So it occurred to me, in the moment, that my sister was articulating a very present eschatology. By this point, she’d been living with a dual-diagnosis of persistent mental illness and mild developmental delay for a few years. She’d experienced the primal wound of being abandoned by her birth mother, raised in a foster home for the first six years of her life, and then torn from the land of her birth by loving, well-intentioned people who, nevertheless, did not look like her, or speak her language. By this point, my sister, Tara, who is Thai by birth and gifted with beautiful, lustrous brown skin, had experienced a childhood filled with racism both ignorantly casual and pointedly vicious. She had spent years running away from home, running toward danger. She’d been exposed to the violence that comes with life on the streets. She’d been beaten, she’d been exploited, and when she turned to the police in a life-or-death moment looking for help escaping the horrors of her immediate surroundings, they’d taken one look at her and saw only a disheveled, disorganized, dirty, brown-skinned girl with a funny way of talking and they told her to get lost, as if she wasn’t already.

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Tulips, breaking through topsoil.

So we were talking, she and I, about resurrection, and what hope we may have for the future, for a life better than the ones we’d known. I was talking to her about the miracle of tulips, which seem to die over and over, only to break free from the earth again and again to show their beauty in their frailty. And that’s when she told me, “what I think, is that this is hell.”

So, my reflection on this passage from Matthew has to start there, in hell, though the text itself does not use that word. This scene of final judgment, which is unique to Matthew’s gospel, is “the only scene with any details picturing the last judgment in the New Testament.”[1] Here we hear Jesus speaking in the voice of the ruler of heaven and earth seated on a cosmic throne before all the nations, rendering a judgment that addresses each person, each of us, on the basis of how we have responded to the human beings in our midst who are experiencing on a daily basis the depth of the hells this world has to offer: hunger, thirst, hostility to all that is strange or foreign or different, the bare naked exposure of poverty, the wretchedness of disease and illness, the graceless confines of our retributive justice and our merciless prison industrial complexes. In this scene of final judgement, the Lord of the universe says nothing about people’s personal sentiments, or public proclamations. The Lord gives no consideration to who you have claimed as your “personal Lord and savior.” The Lord of time focuses, like my sister, on the present and the fires to which we have consigned each other and asks what we have done for those whose daily reality is a burning hell.

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Illustration of St. Matthew the Evangelist from the Lindisfarne Gospels. Britain, 8th century.

I haven’t always known quite what to do with the festival of the Reign of Christ at the end of each liturgical year. Over time, however, I’ve come to appreciate the opportunity it provides for us to consider the distinctive voice of the synoptic gospel assigned to the year now ending. For this last year, it has been the Gospel of Matthew. So we have been hearing the good news of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ in a recognizably Matthean mode. Matthew’s theological world draws us into a recognition of the reign of God in clear opposition to the reign of Satan; it is the only gospel to speak explicitly of the “church” as a description for the community of believers, and so it invites us to give consideration to what we think the church is and who is part of it; it insists that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law, not the abolishment of it, and in doing so it ties the ethical life of those who follow Jesus to the ethical demands of the prophets of Israel. Then there is the thorny matter of Matthew’s relationship to the rest of Judaism, as this gospel preserves the memory of a religious community divided within itself over the nature of the covenant, the revelation of the messiah, and the imperative of the present moment to acknowledge and respond to what God is doing now in human history.

These themes and tensions are always with us, and I was reminded of that fact as I read and re-read the Boston Declaration, a theological statement released last Monday at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature that publicly calls out American Evangelicalism for the ways that it has stoked the fires of a very real and present hell for millions of “the least of these” who suffer under the tyranny of intersecting ideologies of oppression that have interlaced racism, colonialism, and environmental degradation in ways that have created a living hell for the peoples of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the US territories; that have privileged and prioritized profits for gun manufacturers over the lives of human beings; that have supported the violent hetero-patriarchy evident in the daily revelations of rampant sexual misconduct and abuse by men against women and girls in workplaces and in homes; that has scapegoated Jewish people, Muslim people, Black and Brown people, and Queer people for the sins of White Christian Patriarchy; for elevating the economic appetites of nations by respecting national borders more than the lives of those who cross them as immigrants or refugees from the living hells created by those very same nations.

The stark and unapologetically divisive nature of the Boston Declaration very much reminds me of the stark and unapologetically divisive nature of this scene from Matthew of the final judgment in which all the nations are gathered before God and the people are surprised once more to hear that God takes sides. That our apathy and misconduct cannot be dismissed or justified by our claims to ethnic or national or religious exceptionalism.

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“The Last Judgment” by Fra Angelico, ca. 1395-1455

We all recoil from this scene, or should if we are in the least bit self-aware. The on-going presence of hunger and thirst, violence and poverty, malicious neglect of the ill and obscene incarceration of our neighbors who are, in fact, our siblings, indicts us all as complicit in the dominion of “the devil and his angels.” (Mt. 25:41) And it simply will not do to dismiss our discomfort with reminders of our Lutheran doctrine of justification by grace through faith; to let ourselves off the hook with reminders of God’s unceasing mercy, because it is God who addresses us here. It is God who speaks these words of judgment.

So we are left to grapple with the purpose and function of this eschatological vision and the tensions it produces. It is a tension that brings me back to my sister’s own declaration: “What I think, is that this is hell.” A very present eschatology, not unlike, I think, Jesus’s own eschatology. After all, it is in Matthew’s gospel that Jesus begins his public ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Mt. 4:17) This is Matthew’s Christology, that Jesus brings the reign of God, the fulfillment of God’s promises in the past, into the present moment with consequences for all of human life, for all of creation, here and now. Now is the moment of judgment. Now is the assurance that God does, in fact, take sides. Now is the promise that the hells in which we are burning cannot stand against the waters of the Christ into whom we are baptized. Now is the moment of our salvation. Now, not in the words we say or the identities we claim, but in the acts of lovingkindness we perform for one another, for the needless misery we relieve, for the welcome we offer, for the liberation we effect. Now. Now. Now.

Hell is not a threat of future punishment by our God. It is now. Or at least that’s what I heard when I listened to my sister, one of the least of these, and I believe her. What do you suppose might happen if you, if all of us, believed the voices of the women and girls, of the strangers and foreigners, of the masses that are incarcerated, of the legions of the sick and dying, of those who hunger and thirst?

A final word before I say goodbye to Matthew for a couple more years:

We struggle with the vitriol Matthew voices against those he calls “the Jews” because of the long history of Christian anti-Semitism, which the Boston Declaration rightly both laments and condemns. In its own context, however, what Matthew gives witness to is an intra-religious conflict among people who understood themselves as belonging to the same faith, yet who still drew very different conclusions about what God was doing in the present moment and what their faith required of them as a result. Here, again, the Boston Declaration provides a timely example. We might wonder what this present moment will look like two thousand years from now to those who have the advantage of that perspective, who will be able to look back and see what this one group called Mainline Protestants said about another group called American Evangelicals. We cannot know how these divides will deepen, or heal. Perhaps we will continue to drift away from one another to such an extent that we can no longer even recognize ourselves as belonging to the same religion.

Here Matthew shows us the righteousness of God, in that, no matter how much Matthew the evangelist might wish to claim superiority over the other sects of Judaism on the basis of his theological declarations, in the end God once again confounds our ideas of righteousness by disrupting the borders we draw around nations, tribes, religions, identities by lifting up those who do what is needed to meet the needs of the wounded neighbor, the suffering sibling.

We, too, should hear this word: that God cares less for our Boston Declarations than for our actual presence with those who suffer. God cares less about the accuracy of our theological ideas than the impact of our public witness. Just as fifty years of dialogue with the Roman Catholic church has led us to a new commitment to shared acts of proclamation and service, we might imagine and should already be looking for ways to heal the rifts that divide us from the very people we now condemn. For surely, in the moment of judgment that is always already happening, we will discover once again that we are all a part of the same family, that we all bear Christ to one another, that we are all standing before the throne of God, and that we are all in this together.

Amen.

[1] “The Gospel of Matthew: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections,” by M. Eugene Boring in The New Interpreter’s Bible, v.8, p.455 (1995: Abingdon Press)

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Sermons

Sermon: Sunday, December 18, 2016: Fourth Sunday of Advent

Texts: Isaiah 7:10-16  +  Psalm 80:1-7,17-19  +  Romans 1:1-7  +  Matthew 1:18-25

I’m trying to imagine what Mary might have felt, her fate in Joseph’s hands, as he discovered that she was with child — though not by him. To hear the story that the gospel of Matthew is telling I have to forget what I know of Mary from the gospel of Luke. There is no annunciation, no brave response, no conversation between the mothers of Jesus and John. Instead, Matthew’s tale focuses on Joseph’s role in saving the life of Mary, which saves the life of Jesus, which saves the life of the world.

Mary was trapped. By law, she could be tried publicly and executed by stoning for becoming pregnant while engaged to another man (Deut. 22:23-27). Matthew doesn’t narrate the process by which her pregnancy becomes known to Joseph. It says, “she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” (Mt. 1:18c) How was she found this way? Did she share this secret news with Joseph himself? Or with her mother? Was there a quiet conference, at which Mary’s father pleaded with Joseph to spare her life? Did she have siblings? Were there younger sisters eavesdropping on panicky whispered conversations, absorbing the reality of this moment, learning that their bodies were not their own?

I don’t know if it’s an apt analogy or not. Maybe it’s just that the horror of Aleppo demands to be named, but when I try to imagine what Mary might have been thinking or feeling as she waited to discover how Joseph would respond to news of her pregnancy, as she envisioned her neighbors gathering at the town gate to hurl stones at her until she fell dead, my mind keeps going to the videos being posted by citizens of Aleppo, hiding in place, waiting for government forces to find them and kill them. Lina Shamy looks to be no more than 16 as she records herself saying, “this may be my last video.” Fatemah tweets, “Final message — people are dying since last night. I am very surprised I am tweeting right now & still alive.” Monther Etaky’s eyes droop and his voice flattens into a monotone as he reports that “there’s a lot of families, women and children living here, afraid about what will be if all the city captured.” A man identified only by his Twitter handle (Mr_Alhamdo) posts video that sounds like the obituary for a movement: “Exactly yesterday there were many celebrations on the other part of Aleppo. They were celebrating on our bodies. It’s ok, this is life. At least we know that — we were a free people. We wanted freedom. We didn’t want anything else but freedom. You know, this world doesn’t like freedom.”

If the Mary whose voice I learned from the gospel of Luke could be heard today, I imagine she would sound like that. Like the voices of young women and men, heartbroken by state-sanctioned violence, crying out for freedom. If I could speak to them right now, if I could send a messenger from the LORD, I would want them to hear what angels said to Mary and Joseph, “be not afraid!” But how can we command courage in the moment of annihilation?

Instead, in Matthew, we get the story of Joseph. In this telling the angel speaks to Joseph, calling him by name, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid…” (Mt. 1:20)

“Son of David” is not a common title, it’s not a fancy synonym for “Israelite.” The angel is reminding Joseph of his lineage, a lineage that has just been recounted as the opening to Matthew’s gospel which begins, “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (1:1) The word we translate as “genealogy” in Greek is “genesis,” it means “the birth,” “the nativity,” “the origin.” Of course, we hear the word “genesis” and we think of the first book of the Bible, the story of creation, how something came to be where before there was nothing.

Matthew’s genealogy offers us a hint at how this happens, how something comes into existence where nothing had previously been. First he calls Jesus “son of David, son of Abraham.” Then he calls Joseph, “son of David” — but only after making it clear to us, the readers, that Jesus is not Joseph’s son. Which makes the entire genealogy suspect. Who else may have cheated their way into David’s royal lineage?

If we read closely, we begin to notice that far from being an argument for patriarchy, Matthew’s genealogy is unveiling the interruptions in power that led to Jesus’s birth. First there was Tamar, the mother of Perez and Zerah, by Judah. Tamar’s life was also nearly ended by a pregnancy outside of marriage, but by her own tenacious wit she secured a place for herself in the house of Judah.

Then there was Rahab, a Caananite prostitute who makes her way into the lineage by showing faith in the God of Israel and helping deliver the city of Jericho into Joshua’s hands. Her story is seen as a rationalization for how the law of Moses (the same law that condemned Mary to death) could be bent, since Deuteronomic law forbids intermarriage between Israelites and Canaanites, but there it is: intermarriage in the lineage that led to David, and then to Jesus.

Rahab’s own son, Boaz, fathered Obed by Ruth — yet another outsider, a Moabite. You may remember her story: faithful to her mother-in-law, Naomi, Ruth follows her back to her homeland after the death of their husbands, endures poverty, and ultimately secures for them all a future by marrying Boaz. Their grandson is Jesse, the father of King David.

David has many wives, but it is through his union with Bathsheba, whom he took from Uriah the Hittite, that Solomon is born. From there Matthew reports, “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations.” (Mt. 1:17)

Therefore, when the angel greets Joseph, “son of David” — it is as if God’s messenger is reminding him, “You, who hold the life of this woman in your hands; you are descended from not only from kings and rulers of men, but from women and survivors of oppression. Your foremothers resisted the stories told about them and found ways to survive in the face of neglect, exploitation, poverty, and lust. Now you, Joseph, now you hold the fate of this woman in your hands and the life of her unborn child.”

I’ll admit that part of the reason I love Luke’s gospel is because in the song of Mary we hear the song of the oppressed crying out for freedom, like the voices of the Syrian rebels crying “freedom” as death marches ever closer. I like to hear my song in her Magnificat, my liberation in her rallying cry.

But to the Syrians, and so many others, we are more like Joseph — living in a moment of a critical decision: will we remember that we, too, are the products of so many forgotten moments of resistance? Will we shed our fear, our xenophobia and our apathy to come to the aid of those sentenced to death? Or will we choose to remember our history as one of national privilege, ethnocentrism, and impermeable borders?

There is a saying in the Talmud, the record of rabbinic ethical reflection on Jewish law, that says, “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”

“When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took [Mary] as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus” (Mt. 1:24-25) — which means “God saves.” A choice, to spare and not to condemn, by which we Christians say the whole world was saved, and a new world began. A new family in which power is not allotted on the basis of gender. A new genesis, a new lineage in which race and nation no longer define us.

You know what time it is. Now is the moment to wake from sleep. Tell me, dreamers, who will you claim as members of your family? How will our witness as the body of Christ, the products of a gloriously mixed lineage, interrupt the stories told by those in power? How will we unveil the truth that we all belong to each other? What worlds will be saved by the lives you spare?

Do not be afraid.

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Sermons

Sermon: Sunday, December 29, 2013: First Sunday of Christmas

Texts: Isaiah 63:7-9  +  Psalm 148  +  Hebrews 2:10-18  +  Matthew 2:13-23

Merry Christmas everyone!  We are still in that season of Christmas which spans the 12 days from December 25th through January 5th, after which we celebrate the Epiphany of our Lord (which we’ll do in worship next Sunday, though technically it falls on Monday, January 6th).

It’s only been a couple of days many of us have seen each other and, whether you were here for the Christmas holidays or off traveling, I hope you were able to enjoy time with family or friends. Kerry and I left immediately after worship on Christmas morning for Des Moines, where my family lives, and got back early last night. It was a brief visit, so we had to pack lots of holiday traditions into just a couple of days.

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“Saving Mr. Banks”

One of those traditions is the holiday movie. Hollywood times the release of all sorts of movies to coincide with the winter holiday, knowing that families will be together and looking for entertainment, and our family is no exception. This year we decided to see the recently released “Saving Mr. Banks,” which tells the story of the woman who wrote Mary Poppins, P. L. Travers and the efforts of Walt Disney to bring her story to the silver screen. Travers is played by the magnificent Emma Thompson and Disney by Tom Hanks, and the cast is filled out by a host of fantastic actors working with a wonderful script. When you’ve got Mary Poppins, Walt Disney, Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks all in one place a good time is sure to be had by all, right?

Pretty quickly we discovered that “Saving Mr. Banks” wasn’t after a good time at all.  We’d gone in expecting a fairly straight-forward contest of wills between Travers and Disney, only to discover that the real story in “Saving Mr. Banks” (as the title implies) is about the relationship between Travers and her long-since-deceased father — an imaginative, free-spirited man plagued by alcoholism and trapped in a career as a banker that is slowly killing his soul. As the movie unfolds, we begin to see that Mary Poppins was the story Travers created to bring order to the chaos of her own childhood by creating a fantasy, a dream, in which all that had been lost to her — her childhood, her father, her joy — could be restored.

The texts for the First Sunday of Christmas this year have a similar kind of “bait-and-switch” quality to them. We come to worship just days after Christmas, expecting perhaps a quiet resolution to the story that began on Christmas Eve as the infant Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem. Instead we get a nightmare of a  story about paranoia and anger that results in the deaths of a generation of children.

“Saving Mr. Banks” begins with a quote from Mary Poppins delivered by Bert the chimney sweep,

Wind’s in the east, mist coming in, like something is brewing … about to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I fear what’s to happen all happened before.

The gospel of Matthew might well have prefaced its version of Jesus’ birth with the same words.  If parts of the gospel reading seemed somehow familiar, that’s because you’ve heard them before in Hebrew scripture, in Genesis and Exodus.  Once again we have a character named Joseph whom God communicates with in dreams who must flee to Egypt in order to escape the wrath of his own countrymen. Once again we have a child rescued from certain death, as Moses was when his mother set him in a basket on the river, while a generation of children are slaughtered. Echoes of the past are heaped onto this story, layer after layer.  Not only is Joseph, the husband of Mary, like Joseph, the son of Jacob whose name became Israel; not only is Jesus, like Moses, spared the wrath of a violent and vengeful ruler; but we also hear the name Rachel, Jacob’s wife, who the prophet Jeremiah imagines as weeping for her children, the entire nation of Israel, during their long exile in Babylon.

The gospel of Matthew, like Bert the chimney sweep in Mary Poppins, sees what is happening as Jesus enters the world and wants us to recognize that the story to come, the story of Jesus’ coming into the world, is tied to the never-ending story of God’s saving power. “Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I fear what’s to happen all happened before.”

For many, this story of the slaughter of the holy innocents — which only appears in Matthew — is a passage they’d rather avoid. There’s simply no way to stay lost in the soft glow of the star of Bethlehem and the shepherds and the angels chorus as you read about the Holy Family turned into refugees on the run from unchecked and state-sponsored violence. But, for those who have lived this story, who know what it means to be a refugee, to be on the run and in hiding from the people or the nation who was supposed to love and care for you, this story is one of hope and ultimately of redemption.

Here in Chicago, RefugeeOne works with almost 2,500 refugees every year, helping acclimate them to a new culture, a new language and a new life as they flee from violence, war and persecution in their homes.  Currently the majority of these refugees are Iraqis who helped the recent U.S. military operations and Assyrian Christian Iraqis fleeing religious persecution; Burmese who have fled government-instilled violence and persecution; and Bhutanese who have fled ethnic “cleansing.”  Many of these people were raised in nations antagonistic to the United States and our allies, so this resettlement feels very much like the Holy Family might have felt as they entered Egypt, the land of their people’s former enslavement.

But the experience of fleeing from violence at the hands of your countrymen, your family, is not limited to those escaping from political violence and repression.  For millions of people right here in our own country, there is no safety even in their own homes. Research on domestic violence tells us that, globally, one in three women is beaten or abused, most often by a member of her own family and that domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women — more than car accidents, muggings and sexual assaults combined.  Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness acts of domestic violence annually, and that this early exposure to violence can lead to a continuing cycle of violence, particularly as boys exposed to violence as children become adults.

There are so many ways to lose a generation to violence.

So, to people such as these, to refugees and immigrants and all who are on the run from the violence of their own past, the first word of good news in the hard story from scripture this morning is that God is intimately aware of your suffering, and that God’s own child knew firsthand the struggle of finding yourself a stranger in a strange land. Jesus was a refugee, and escaped from the kind of genocidal violence that still continues to this day.

“Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I fear what’s to happen all happened before.”

One of the fascinating elements of the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” is the way the main character, P. L. Travers, struggles with the ongoing influence of her childhood on her present reality.  She is at once very much her father’s daughter, blessed with a rich imagination that is able to see the enchanted aspects of everyday life, and she is his opposite: stern where he was warm, aloof where he was familiar, and unyielding where he was forgiving. That dichotomy shows up in Mary Poppins in the characters of Bert, the lovable chimney sweep and Mr.  Banks, the children’s overly-responsible and absent father. As the film moves towards its resolution, Travers is confronted with the realization that she has become stuck in her own past, trapped by a fantasy of who she was and who she is.

When we examine our own dreams, the ones that come to us at night, wild and uncontrollable, it’s often been suggested that we entertain the idea that we might be any of the characters in our dreams and not only the one from whose point of view the dream seems to be taking place.  So P. L. Travers is not simply Mary Poppins, or Bert, or Mr. Banks, or his daughter Jane. She is all of them, trying to come to a new resolution of an old story.

Likewise, when we listen to the story from Matthew, which reads like a nightmare, we are led to wonder if we might not only be like Jesus and his family, or like those wise men from the east, but also how we might be like Herod and, if so, how we might come to a new resolution of that old story.

In the verses just before the ones we read this morning, we hear about Herod’s first encounter with the wise men.  Upon their arrival, they announce that a child has been born who is king of the Jews.  This was actually Herod’s title, given to him by the Roman Empire, by whose power he was allowed to govern Israel in Jerusalem.  His first response to the news of this infant child is fear, fear that someone has come to replace him. His second response is dishonesty, as he tells the wise men that he supports their efforts to find the child and, in fact, would also like to go and pay the child homage. His final response is anger, which controls him, and leads to the death of Israel’s children.

The truth in the telling of this story is that fear so often leads to anger, and that those who cannot face their own fears are prone not only to violence but to deception as they justify their abuses to themselves and others. This happens in settings as vast as the relations between nations who build up stockpiles of weapons to gain leverage in their relationships with one another rather than working together to find common cause and support the common good; and as intimate as our own homes as fearful spouses justify hurtful words and painful actions with excuses that justify their behavior.

We may not be kings, like Herod, or Pharaoh, but we each exercise some measure of power in our respective lives. And we each, to some extent, misuse the power entrusted to us, whether that be at home, at work, or out in the wider world. Which is why we so often begin our worship with the act of confession and the assurance of forgiveness. Our constant confession is not an effort on the part of the church to shame those who gather here, but to liberate them from the guilt that — when we are honest with ourselves — plagues all of us who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, in whose image we are made.

At one point in the movie, as the script and song-writers keep working to translate Travers’ book into a film, Travers gets fed up with their efforts to capture the essence of Mary Poppins and her relationship to the Banks family and storms out of the room saying, “You think Mary Poppins is there to save the children?”

I think that’s where I so often get stuck in my effort to interpret this story of the slaughter of the holy innocents.  I am outraged by the suffering of so many children, and I want God in Jesus to save them.  But, in God’s eyes we are all the children, even the grown ups, even the violent and abusive ones, even Herod.  Mary Poppins came to save Mr. Banks, just like Joseph spared his family by taking them to Egypt, just like Moses saved the people of Israel by leading them out of slavery, just like Jesus saved us all by bringing an end to a system of sacrifice in which each sin had to be paid for with blood, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.  In Jesus God is saving us all, the holy innocents and the fearful, violent offenders. All of us.

It is such a strange story, so unconventional in its plot and execution that it’s hard to believe, and perhaps we wouldn’t except that it keeps happening over and over and over again. Us getting lost in our fear and our anger and our violence, and God finding us and saving us time and time again.

And I trust what’s to happen has happened before.

Amen.

 

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